March is National Nutrition Month, “a time to return to the basics of healthful eating.” The theme for 2015 finds the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encouraging everyone to “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.” Athletes often find it easy to “step” into a healthy lifestyle of activity, but too often neglect the benefits of healthy eating for their athletic performance. Athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and even armchair sports observers need not only to make every step count, but to make each bite count. As a registered dietitian, I often encounter athletes making the following two mistakes:
- An athlete may choose to skip a meal or skimp on the day’s calories due to a skipped workout. Each meal, however, is an opportunity to nourish our bodies, recover from the last workout and prepare for the next one. Chocolate milk, an excellent workout recovery drink with the perfect combination of carbohydrates and protein, is a tasty way to recover, refuel and nourish the body. Having a balanced meal three times a day that includes dairy products like cheese, skim milk or yogurt keeps our bones strong and bodies primed for action. Need recipe ideas? Click here.
- An athlete may sabotage a great workout with poor nutrition choices later in the day. A hard run or weight-lifting session should be not be “rewarded” by dessert, an alcoholic beverage, or larger portions. The sense of accomplishment should be its own reward. Instead, refuel and repair the body by filling your plate the MyPlate way, incorporating the five food groups that are the building blocks of a healthy diet: fruits, vegetables, grains, lean protein and dairy.
Eating a nutrient-rich, varied diet that includes skim or low-fat dairy, as well as incorporating at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day, can help anyone “step” into a healthy lifestyle.
How will you “Bite into a Health Lifestyle” this month?
Wendy Phillips, MS, RD, CNSC, CLE, FAND
Wendy Phillips is the Clinical Nutrition Director at the University of Virginia Health System, and a Regional Clinical Nutrition Manager for Morrison Healthcare. She worked in adult and pediatric nutrition support for 10 years. She loves helping children learn healthy eating and lifestyle behaviors, and helping people of all ages maximize their athletic potential through good nutrition.